Airbnb Consented and Approved of Fraud

I’d like to share with you how I was a victim of a fraud while using Airbnb’s platform and how surprisingly the company is doing nothing to prevent such fraud from continuing to happen. I used Airbnb for the first time to rent two apartments in Amsterdam for myself and seven of my friends, and after browsing Airbnb’s offers I saw that many hosts ask users to contact them via email in order to book the apartment rather than speaking to them on Airbnb (see screen shots below). I talked to a host via email and he sent me a confirmation regarding the booking for two apartments (it looks like a confirmation from Airbnb). I paid the host 2,100 Euros via wire transfer – and lost my money. I acted as many innocent and unexperienced users might do: following the instructions of an Airbnb host listed on Airbnb under the assumption that if information is published on Airbnb then it’s okay to comply, especially when Airbnb said nothing about avoiding this kind of practice when creating an account.

Now there are two major problems with Airbnb regarding this case:

1. Why does Airbnb allow its hosts to publish instructions to its users that are allegedly against Airbnb’s policies? Airbnb claims that they would never ask a user to go out of their site to talk to hosts but they allow hosts do to so and by that allow its users to be scammed by criminals using Airbnb’s site?

2. Even after I talked to Airbnb’s Customer Support and Risk Management Departments and described how the fraud works – the same fraudulent hosts and others were still active on Airbnb, publishing the same instructions to users and continuing to scam people out of their money all under Airbnb’s nose– the company did nothing about it. Even though they were fully aware and knew everything they needed to know about this fraud (as I said, my friend sent them screen shots and a full explanation of how it works), they did nothing. Only after I published the story on Facebook, tagging Airbnb, did they “kindly” remove the fake hosts from the site and there were about six of them in the Amsterdam section alone.

Airbnb is saying that they are responsible for their users’ safety but in practice they are doing nothing to protect their users from criminals using their site and platform. They can and must do so using very little resources, and to add to them doing nothing they also ignored my many emails and phone calls to their support center and responded only after the story was published on Facebook. Is that a user-concerned site and company? Is that the type of security and service a company of Airbnb’s scale should supply its customers? I regret to say that Airbnb’s behavior is shameful and shows just how much they care about the safety of their users and customers: not at all.

Posted in Airbnb Guest Stories and tagged , , , , , , .

3 Comments

  1. Oh grow up! What interest does airbnb have in not receiving money via their platform? Do you think its good business for them to “allow” scammers?! You were dumb and it was costly. Shitty? Yes! But not their fault you’re careless.

  2. People like you make it harder for normal people like us. If this keeps on happening I can imagine Airbnb superimposing rules making contact and in effect booking rooms more difficult. Why can’t you follow simple instructions? Obviously if you “go under” and wire transfer money to a host then you leave the protection Airbnb offers and put yourself in danger since there won’t be any records Airbnb can review (yes your texts and emails wont count).

    And when shit hits the fan you come crying to Airbnb. I’m guessing the host offered “special rates” to transact directly. You have to understand that the extra cost Airbnb takes (which the hosts passes on to you) protects you against these. If anyone feels any shame at all it should be you.

  3. Rules posted on Airbnb under payment: <>

    Only communicate via Airbnb.
    Make SURE that your browser address bar has a secure LOCK icon with Airbnb Inc. indicated.

    Only pay with approved forms for each listing via Airbnb website. Wire Transfer is CASH and is never allowed. Do not pay from an invoice or by clicking on a link in correspondence.

    Not sure? Ask a knowledgeable friend or post a question before going further.

    No website can proactively review the contents of each communication for violation of it’s terms. Disregarding or not reading and understanding their instructions or terms usually eliminates the possibility they have liability in actions outside their control.

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